A recent case (January 18th, 2011) makes clear that in a proper case, permanent maintenance may be awarded. In Bayer v. Bayer, that involved a husband in a long term marriage populated with children, who was a high earning doctor, and a corresponding high standard of living, maintenance without duration, only to be terminated by divorce or remarriage, was awarded to the needy spouse who was not in the job market and relied upon her husband for her total support.
The court commented that because of the high standard of living of the family, and the fact that the husband earned a large income, he could well afford to make the payments and still maintain himself handsomely.
Nevertheless , it should be remembered that the current trend is to make maintenance award rehabilitative. That is, to continue payments for a sufficient period to permit the recipient to be self supporting. In shorter term marriages,, and where the receiving spouse has skills and education, maintenance is usually limited to a period approximating half the years of the marriage, or an even shorter period if that is thought by the judge to permit the spouse to return to the workforce and obtain meaningful employment. Each case is decided on its own fact, so the skill of your attorney in presenting evidence to sustain your position is extremely important.